Fingernails grow faster than toenails.
Human fingernails grow at a rate that is about three times faster than that of human toenails. (1) Within that general growth arc are several other fascinating patterns: both types of nails grow faster in the summer than in winter; male fingernails tend to grow a bit faster than female ones; and pregnant women experience an increased growth rate.
But perhaps the strangest nail growth pattern of all is the fact that the fingernails on a person’s writing hand grow a bit faster than those on the other. Today’s computer, tablet and cell phone technology have replaced the pen and paper, meaning that a “writing hand’s” prominence is not what it used to be. Still, for those individuals who are yet completely tech-oriented, this is just one more aspect of the strange patterns of human nail growth.
Researchers at an east coast university looking to precisely quantify the respective growth rates of fingernails and toe nails marked up 22 adult subjects.(2) This was a very simple study, for all that it involved was reconnecting with the participants one to three months later to see how much further the nails had grown beyond the initial measurement to the proximal nail.
Confirming the above observation about the “writing hand” idea, there was no significant difference between how fast left and right hand fingernails grew. However, the nails of the hand most definitely were longer at the end of the study than those of the fee, to the tune of a rate of 3.47 millimeters per month for fingernails to 1.62 millimeters per month for toenails.
There are currently more than a dozen finger and toenail-related world records confirmed by Guinness.(3) The record holder for longest mail fingernails passed away in 2009 in Troy, Michigan. By that point, Melvin Booth had grown his fingernails to an astonishing combined length of more than 32 feet. Coincidentally, the world female record holder is also alive, but lost her long nails in a car accident the same year as Booth’s death.
New York Times -”Watching Nails Grow”, May 23, 2011, Retrieved October 17, 2011 from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/science/24qna.html
University of North Carolina – “Growth Rate of Human Fingernails and Toenails in Healthy American Young Adults”, April 24, 2010, Retrieved October 17, 2011 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19744178
Guiness Book of World Records – Search: “Nails”, Retrieved October 17, 2011 from http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/Search.aspx?q=nails